Coming Soon: Bard Early College High School

Yesterday, DCPS announced the opening of a new school in the 2019-20 school year. Bard Early College High School will operate a new selective admissions program to be located in the East End of the District, in either Ward 7 or 8. DC has several selective admissions high schools run by DCPS, but none is currently located east of the Anacostia River. At the end of a four year course of study, students in the early college program will graduate with both a HS diploma and an Associate Arts (AA) degree from Bard College. Applicants will need to provide a writing sample and complete an interview, but will not be admitted based on test scores or transcripts.

I have always believed that families deserve a variety of choices, including DCPS and charter schools of many kinds. Families deserve a variety of choices in public education. Families who live in Wards 7 and 8 should not have to leave their communities to find a variety of educational options.

I was surprised that some of my neighbors and some local teacher advocates disagree. They worry that a new school will drain resources from existing DCPS schools. One raised concern that taking high performers out of existing Ward 7 & 8 schools will negatively affect the students who remain in those schools. I believe that a high school student should follow their own best educational path forward, without the burden of having to consider what their effort to advance might do to their peers. I would never ask any parent to make decisions about their child’s high school education that weren’t deeply rooted in what was best for their child. And at the same time, we must make sure that each and every school has the resources it needs to serve the students in their care.

I believe we all have a collective responsibility for public education. I believe that we owe it to all District students to offer educational programs that will help prepare them for the future. I also believe that parents know their children best. Offering more choices for more students in more areas of the city is a positive thing and one worth celebrating.

Jessica Sutter